EXCLUSIVE: Island nation also plans to sign co-production treaties.

In a groundbreaking move aimed at attracting international production and to kick start a local industry, island nation Mauritius has set up its own film tax scheme worth 30% of qualifying Mauritian spend.

The scheme received Government approval last November.

“We started to do some research and look at new sectors that we would be able to promote. One sector we thought would be interesting for us was the film industry,” commented Shamima Hassam, in charge of the rebate project at the Mauritius Board of Investment.

Hassam will be in Berlin this week to raise awareness of the new incentive. She has also revealed that Mauritius is planning to set up a series of co-production partnerships.

Mauritius is already busy courting European, South African and Indian producers.

“For the time being, we haven’t signed any co-production treay with any country. However, the Government has the intention to sign some co-production treaties with the four primary targets, namely the UK, France, South Africa and India.”

Media consultants Olsberg SPI have been advising on the new tax scheme.

Some notable international projects are already Mauritius bound.

South African company DV8 will be shooting its new feature $7m Sweet Black Water in Mauritius later in the year.

This is a 19th century-set love story featuring the first indentured Indians who came to South Africa. Partho Sen-Gupta is set to direct the film, which is due to shoot this autumn.

“The landscape in Mauritius is very similar to the landscape in South Africa. We want to shoot part of the film in South Africa,” DV8’s Jeremy Nathan commented.

The new Mauritian scheme is only the second film rebate available in Africa, following on from the incentive already available in South Africa.

Mauritius doesn’t currently have a studio of its own. However, South African facilities company Media Film Service has offices on the island.

“There is a limited skills base but that is what the Mauritian Government is trying to expand,” Nathan commented.

Hassam has confirmed that Mauritius aims to create a “pool” of local talent as well as taking advantage of the country’s booming IT industry to provide state of the art post production facilities.

Once a production is complete and an application for the rebate has been submitted, a Film Committee will endeavor to process payment within 30 days.

DV8 is planning to make several further films in Mauritius and is also committed to working with and training local talent.

The production company is also hatching a transmedia project - a “virtual museum” - that will chronicle the history of the indentured movement. DV8 is partnering with Ochre Media on this project.

“There is amazing infrastructure in Mauritius. Everything works. All the telephony and internet is world class. On top of that, it is extraordinarily beautiful and has a very stable political economy,” Nathan commented.